St. Paul’s Epistles from Covenants to Order in a Lockean Context
In the same year that, just a few days before his death, Locke was penning instructions to for the publication of some of his unprinted works, in particular of the Paraphrases on the Epistles of Saint Paul, a book entitled The Two Covenants of God with Mankind was published in London. The author, Thomas Taylor, had been for some time a staunch supporter of the thought and work of Malebranche, to whom the subtitle made explicit reference. It was during his studies at Oxford that Taylor had begun to approach Malebranche’s thought, very probably through John Norris his chief English mentor. Indeed, Taylor referred to Norris in the notice To the Reader in his work, both explicitly as—“one who best understands [Malebranche]”—and by reutilising the encomiastic optical and astronomical metaphors with which Norris introduced the French philosopher at the beginning of The Theory of the Ideal or Intelligible World. Also traceable to the authority of Norris was Taylor’s eulogy of the Recherche de la vérité—“a Book that is alone a Library”—that he had translated 10 years earlier, which, along with the almost contemporary translation by Richard Sault, rendered Malebranche’s most influential work accessible to English readers. Taylor’s translation can be set within the context of Locke’s earliest stances regarding the theory of ideas of Malebranche and Norris, the principal documentation of which was to be found in Of Seeing all Things in God (1693), another of the unpublished works mentioned by Locke in the letter to Peter King. King did indeed publish it in the Posthumous Works, albeit without the polemical initial paragraphs directed against Norris, whereas the editorial history of the Paraphrases was to be different.